Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 10/17/2017

Fishing is excellent in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park now. We have had a couple of shots of rain the last week and a half which has helped keep the streams flowing strong for this time of year. The cool overnight temperatures will get the brown and brook trout seriously thinking about spawning. Please be careful this time of year and avoid walking on fine sand and gravel in riffles and tailouts. Leave the spawning trout alone so they can do their thing. When you find brook or brown trout that aren't spawning, they are aggressive and looking to feed. Recent guide trips on brook trout waters have been anywhere from good to excellent. Streams with rainbows and browns have been excellent as well. There are good numbers of fish to be caught in the Park right now!

A variety of bugs have been hatching lately. On cloudy days, Blue-winged Olives have hatched along with some other small mayflies. Various caddis, including the Great Autumn Brown Sedges (often referred to as October Caddis by locals) are hatching and provide a nice bite for the trout. Little Black stoneflies are hatching as well. Fish are eating both dry fly and nymph imitations and even still hitting some terrestrials. Don't forget your beetle, ant, and inchworm fly box. A Parachute Adams or Yellow or Orange Stimulator should work well for a dry fly. Smaller bead head Pheasant Tail nymphs should work as a dropper. Caddis pupa are also catching a lot of fish as are stonefly nymphs.

On the Caney Fork, things have been tough lately. The river has been running warmer than is normal this time of year because of heavy generation earlier this year and also with a stain due to the sluice gate operations. Work has been underway to install vented turbines on the generators and they have been working to try and tweak them to improve dissolved oxygen. One day, we were floating and they were checking the DO and found it at 1.5 ppm. If I remember correctly, the minimum target is 6 ppm. Obviously 1.5 is way too low. Trout were sitting along the banks and in back eddies gasping for oxygen. Hopefully all of this won't have too much of a long term effect on the fishery, but needless to say, things are a bit difficult as of right now. Cooler weather should help. Once the lake turns over, oxygen and clarity will improve quickly.

The Clinch River has been fishing well if you can hit it on low water days. Small nymphs and midges will get the job done here.

Smallmouth bass are about done for the year, but we will be back out on the musky streams again soon looking for the toothy critters. This is tough fishing, but the rewards can be sizable.

Photo of the Month: Night Time Hog

Photo of the Month: Night Time Hog

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pike on the Fly


One of my goals on this trip was to get that first pike on the fly rod. On trips to the Boundary Waters and Quetico, I've done okay with spinning gear but this was the first time trying for them with a fly rod. After asking around a bit, I determined that we could pursue these fish during our stay on the Taylor. Apparently Taylor Reservoir is a good place to try for these toothy fish.


On our second day at the Taylor, we fished the "Hog Trough" in the morning and then moved up to the lake later in the day. Catching nice trout in the morning and then trying something new in the afternoon is not a bad way to spend a day. Terry Gunn from Lees Ferry Anglers had given me a few suggestions on where to try and what to expect so we headed over to the area he recommended. Slowly driving along the shore, I finally spotted a large fish cruising the shallows and quickly jumped out and rigged up. The fish had long since vanished by the time I was actually ready to throw in but we began searching the water anyway. I remembered the times I fished for them up in Canada and knew that a lot of patience and covering water was in order. However after covering the water for awhile without so much as a strike, we decided to try a different spot closer to the area I had been told about.

When we got there, I immediately realized that it was prime pike habitat. Weedy flats stretched well out from shore with a few slightly deeper channels. These fish love weeds and will lie in a good ambush spot until a meal passes by. We started covering the water again when I suddenly saw a huge swirl up against the far bank. I quickly stripped another 20 feet of line out and a good double haul delivered my fly right to the target. The fly slapped down on the water and I began stripping the line furiously but there was nothing. I cast again and this time something slammed the fly almost before it touched the water. It sounds so dramatic, but really I was a bit puzzled. From catching these guys in the past, I figured there had to be more to it. When I started reeling line, I started wondering if a stocker trout had attacked my fly. It just did not feel like much on the 7 weight. As I got it closer, I realized that instead, I had caught one of the little guys...a pike, but definitely not the trophy I had hoped for. Still, it was my first pike on the fly so my buddy Trevor kindly snapped a couple of pictures for me.


Convinced that there were indeed pike around, we began fishing with a renewed purpose. Slowly wading farther out, I was minding my own business when something absolutely erupted in the water a few feet away. I nearly walked on water for a second or two while things calmed down but then I started thinking. Pike are notorious for following a bait forever before committing. After this happened a couple more times, I was sure. Pike were following almost although to the rod tip and then just lurking a few feet away, waiting to see what developed. When I moved they would spook (or was it me that would spook?). I had enough big fish roll nearby to know that there are definitely some very large pike in Taylor Reservoir. Unfortunately neither I nor my buddy ever hooked into one. Thankfully, there is always next time. I'll be sure to have a better selection of flies, and hopefully they'll want to play when I return!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Saving the Best For...


...Last? How about first... In retrospect, going to the Taylor River first might not be a good idea. Seeing hundreds of huge trout and even catching a few definitely increases expectations for the rest of the trip. However tradition has been set and dictates that our first stop on these crazy road trips is the Taylor River near Gunnison Colorado. On this trip, we drove straight through as usual with just a brief stop to sleep in the car a couple of hours. Upon arrival, we found a campground and set up our tents and then drove to the river. The rumor was that the big rainbows were coming off the spawn and theoretically should be feeding heavily.

When we got there, we immediately found more big rainbows out than we have seen in the past. There were lots of big fish just waiting for a choice morsel like a mysis shrimp to drift past. My buddy Trevor and I rigged up and started flogging the water. These fish are pounded literally every day of the year and the key to success is matching the natural foods accurately, getting a drag free drift (much easier said than done), and a fair amount of luck. These fish will spook just from split shot drifting in the vicinity. I cannot begin to count the times that I saw a fish carefully drift a foot out of the path of my flies and after they passed, move back to its spot.

Despite all the challenges, these fish are not impossible to hook. Landing them is another story however. Before landing my first fish, I lost 3 fish from 18-22 inches. This type of fishing is definitely not for everyone. Every time I go there I see visiting anglers shake their heads in frustration and finally leave without hooking a single fish. It takes dedication and creativity to be successful here.

After fishing for awhile and losing some nice fish, I finally started working a particularly large fish. This turned out to be the big rainbow I posted on already. The fish ate and when I set the hook, it bolted downstream. I had to follow it down the river a couple of hundred feet, stumbling along the bank and splashing through the shallows. Upon netting the fish, I discovered several other flies in the jaws of the big rainbow. Apparently others had hooked this nice fish as well but lost the fight. Flies it had consumed already included a big red copper john and small midge patterns. This big rainbow taped out at 24 inches and I was glad to have my large Coho Ghost net to corral it with. This fish was the largest landed during the trip, and while I won't complain, catching the biggest fish first is probably not the best way to have a good trip.

In the waning light, we finally called it a day and wandered back to camp completely exhausted from the last two days on the road. We headed straight for bed as the cold night made sitting up a not so inviting proposition. While we were fishing the Taylor River, I was hoping to target pike up in Taylor Reservoir and I fell asleep entertaining thoughts of large toothy fish inhaling big nasty flies...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Back Home

Wow! After only a couple of hours of sleep over the course of the last 36 plus, I'm feeling a little tired. However, yet another spectacular trip is in the books and I hope to be sharing all about it over the next few days.

In brief, the trip was good but not quite what we were hoping for. The Salmonflies were having a hard time getting going this year with lots of bugs in the bushes but only limited numbers of egg layers on the water getting the fish interested. The Gunnison still fished on a variety of midges, scuds, sow bugs, and big stonefly nymph patterns. Hoppers, caddis, and PMDs also accounted for some fish. The Green River was somewhat of a disappointment because they are having some serious issues with the Bureau of Reclamation constantly messing with the flows, substantially affecting the fishing quality (similar problem on the Gunnison). Still, we caught some very nice fish and overall had a good time. As you can see in the previous post, the Taylor produced as always and we also found a few surprises on some new stretches of water around the state of Colorado, some of which I'll mention later and some I might just keep to myself.

One first that occurred for me on this trip was seeing my backing for the first time ever after hooking a trout. I've come very close before but this was the first time I've actually felt the end of the fly line running over my finger and out the end of the rod. Normally I'll chase fish fast enough that this doesn't happen but I finally met my match and got severely outwitted...

In another few weeks, I'm heading west again, this time to Yellowstone National Park for what should be spectacular fishing in mid to late July. On the to-do list will be some secret spots for big browns and also probably the spectacular terrestrial fishing in the northeast part of the park. The Salmonflies might even still be around so maybe I'll hit that hatch perfectly yet. Up until then, I'll be doing some fishing here in Tennessee including on the area tailwaters and might also do a pack trip in the Smokies. This will of course be in between all my tying for Yellowstone...

I'll definitely be busy the next few weeks but you won't find me doing any complaining about it...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Good Start

We are off to a good start here in Colorado with some very nice fish caught already. Today we're headed over to check out the Gunnison and hopefully the salmonflies...more to come as it happens!

Photo courtesy of Bill Hitz at Gotta Go Fly Fishing

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Heading Out

Finally! Today is the big day, and I'll be leaving in another couple of hours. Right now it looks like the Salmonflies are getting started in the Black Canyon so our timing is just about perfect. Other rivers and streams we are planning on fishing should be starting to fish well soon as runoff slows. Check back often for updates as I'm hoping to get a few pictures up every few days if possible!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

A Diverse Sample

Here is a sample of some of the flies I've been tying lately. Salmonflies will hopefully be important by the time we get to Colorado so I've tied plenty of those, both dries and nymphs. I've also tied some mysis shrimp patterns, midges, Copper Johns, various scuds, and the list could go on. As always, I'm sure my buddy and I will end up tying at the picnic table each day, but I have a good head start. If you want any pattern recipes just let me know.




Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Tying Like Crazy

The next two days are going to involve a lot of fly tying. I have not really started preparing for my trip to Colorado as far as flies go so I need to catch up. Tonight I started on two dozen Copper Johns and did a test run of an epoxy mysis shrimp. I've already tied a few Charlie's Mysis and big salmonfly nymphs. Right now I want to tie up a dozen or so epoxy mysis patterns, two dozen Copper Johns, one-two dozen salmonfly adult patterns, and several more salmonfly nymphs. I also need to tie some hoppers and cicadas for the Green River. Thankfully my midge box is currently full so while I'll probably tie a few, I won't have to be stressing about that. Last but not least, I still have to crank out a few flies for targeting pike and maybe a few streamers for trout as well. Yep, I'm gonna be busy for a couple of days...

If I manage somewhere in the neighborhood of 6-8 dozen flies I'll be fairly happy...and of course there's always the picnic table tying sessions that are as much a part of these trips as catching fish is... In the next day or two I plan on posting some pictures of the flies I've been tying and maybe even give a couple of recipes. For those that are curious about the midges that do well out there, check back to my story about "Tiny Flies" including the micro-tubing midge.

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